2016 Mazda MX-5

Clearly puts a chuckle on your face!

"Think of it as a go-kart by any means necessary."

"It's more than a great car. It's a car that will unleash your great driving skills," said Issam.

"A fanatic roadster in its purest form is back!"

Every single purist, fanatic, supporter, call it what you like, has to start from somewhere. Most of us journos started somewhere. Some of us have an engineering background, be it mechanical or electrical, others have a background in racing, and the others could be just passionate, with an education far removed from engines, and life lead them into this track.

Obviously we all remember the old days when we didn't even have our driver's license. Fundamentally, at 18 years old you're legit; in some countries it's as young as 16. But the whole point is to take you back to those memorable days on a karting track. Imagine now that I'm testing a car that will bring you back that same sort of pleasure.

The Mazda MX-5 is the only car that doesn't need any advertising or marketing. You just tell people the all-new Mazda MX-5 is here - they will run to you and buy it. If I gave no introduction and just told you I'm testing the MX-5, I'd have your immediate attention.

On a very long weekend (Thursday till Tuesday), I picked up the all-new 2016 Mazda MX-5 (Miata) from the official distributor of Mazda in Lebanon, A.N Boukhater. Here's my story about the two-seat roadster and the lightest sports car you can get…

With a history that initiated in 1989, the Mazda MX-5 is one of the hottest roadsters on the market. Excuse my tone but yes, it is the hottest, humblest and most modest sports car you can get at an affordable price. The Mazda MX-5 remains a rear-wheel drive in its fourth generation; a compact sports roadster with an exterior design inspired by the Shinari Concept which was unveiled in 2010. With this new generation, Mazda focused on reducing the total weight to almost 1,000 kilograms and implementing the SkyActiv technology that's already accessible across the rest of its lineup.

The MX-5's new profile is sleeker and sportier than before. The sloping hood and the muscular fenders give it a GT-like appearance. It has the same engine as the CX-5, the 2.0 liter, producing 155 horsepower and 200 Nm of torque. If you hop into the cockpit you will instantly notice the shiny plastic insert running the entire length of the instrument panel that has been ditched for a soft-touch piece, but the round A/C vents and the circular knobs are still there. The center stack on the other hand, is considerably cleaner as most of the buttons and switches have been replaced by a modern touchscreen like in the Mazda3, Mazda2, and Mazda6.

How does it drive? Amazingly 'fun fun', just like the 'zoom zoom' motto. It boasts excellent driving dynamics, quite good efficiency and most importantly, a level of feedback and feel that I personally couldn't find and feel in other modern sports cars that cost double the MX-5's price tag. Mazda has reviewed the roadster's ergonomics, making it a superior fit for most drivers, despite its more compact dimensions. As for me (a person who is 1.81 meters tall), it was probably the maximum height that you can afford to fit it. Taller drivers would be better off ordering a long wheelbase Miata to fit your height, ironically speaking!

Verdict
This MX-5 is a gamble for prospective clientele to put an end to their thirst for purity. It is one of the finest aficionado cars I've ever driven. It keeps its legendary behaviors blooming in a more contemporary package nowadays. It looks gorgeous from the outside, is comfortable inside, rides well with no traffic congestion, and absolutely appeals to your karting skills when driven in a harsh way. This is how a lightweight roadster should be!

Pros: Improved ergonomics, fastest MX-5 (Miata) ever produced, fun to drive, comfortable, very easy to open and close the soft top
Cons: Driver height restrictions, lower seating position makes it tiring on long road trips
Rivals: Subaru BRZ, Toyota GT86, Hyundai Genesis Coupe 2.0T
One word: Purist
4 stars

Specs
2.0 liter, inline-4, 155 hp @ 6000 rpm, 200 Nm @ 4600 rpm
RWD, 6-speed automatic
0-100 km/h: 6.1 secs, top speed:  207 km/h, fuel consumption: 8.4 L/100 km
Weight: 1,047 kg

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